Episode 4 -How difficult is the keto diet really? And should you try it? Deanne Deaville
Updated: May 27
Fellow Rebel, Deanne Deaville spent time with Sarah and Russ to share her thoughts on life and the keto diet.
“Is it worth it?” “Is this all there is in life?” “Is this as good as it gets?” Many people are pondering these questions, even more so with the global lockdowns. The truth is we are not taught how to live a life of purpose and meaning, driven by values and our unique perspectives. Is it time now to learn? Deanne Deaville is a best-selling author, healthy lifestyle coach and workshop facilitator with a formal background in nutrition, who helps stressed and overwhelmed professionals gain increased clarity, productivity, energy, and more fulfillment from life. In short, she helps supply better answers to these questions.
Before embarking in health and wellbeing, Deanne worked 20+ years in Silicon Valley in various roles from marketing communications manager to launching and heading up a capital equipment company in the semiconductor test industry. After an unexpected cancer diagnosis, Deanne turned her non-stop life of chaos to one of thriving and high energy through targeted nutrition and authentic living techniques. Deanne is also a certified trainer in both Barrett values and in the Canfield Success Principles, incorporating these important aspects to illustrate how to recognize and prioritize various symptoms of stress and how to integrate slight shifts into daily life, ultimately improving all other aspects of life – including sleep, energy, mental clarity, and satisfaction.
You can reach Deanne by email at Coach@HealthyByHeart.com
Now onto the interview:
Deanne is a very special person and Sarah's learned a lot from her over the years. She's someone who walks the walk and actually takes these learning and implements them. That's what was explored with her, discussing her health issues and how she's gotten herself out the other side with grace and huge amounts of style.
Sarah: So that's one of the main topics for today Deanne. We really wanted to go in to, is diet, because we haven't really talked about that quite so much. And I know that you had some health issues that maybe you won't mind going into in a bit. And also, one of the ways that you addressed it was with a keto diet. So people might want to know what the keto diet is and how you did it. Because I know that I was with you on a little bit of that journey and how difficult it actually is to maintain that. But maybe you can go into a little bit of your story and how you got onto that track, if you don't mind.
Deanne: Yeah, I don't mind at all. And Sarah, you were with me pretty much every step of the way. I have a nutrition background. I've got training in nutrition; been certified nutritionist for 20 years.
I was working at a pace that I knew was unhealthy. And I kept thinking at some point, I've got to stop. I got to stop. But when you're in it and you've got the mortgage to pay and you got the kids that are growing up, it's really hard to just say, "I'm just going to stop." I deferred to another day always. Then until that day came when I woke up and I found a lump. And it's like, this doesn't feel good.
I'm in total shock and for probably three weeks, I think, it was three weeks before I told anybody. And because I kept checking like, "Well, maybe it's just anomaly. It'll just go away." It'll going away. And then I had noticed over the previous couple of months that I was so tired, so fatigued, but I'm eating right. And then I found that lump that "Oh! This is not good." So in my nutrition background, of course, I've heard so many times about the ketogenic diet and how it's fantastic for epileptic seizures and been used for literally like 100 years and that also is good for cancer. So I thought, well, I'm going to try it and dive in. But of course, you don't get cancer. I mean, cancer is a metabolic issue. And so something was going on inside my body that was allowing cancer to grow and flourish and multiply and so that always involves a toxic liver. So I did a solid one week liver cleanse of just raw juicing and fasting and it was not an easy thing to do. But when we on that like we grew wheatgrass juice to like couldn't stand the smell of it any point. And after that then I went on the ketogenic diet, I was already clean despite having cancer, so obviously not that clean, but I then went on the ketogenic diet. And for me, by then
I had a diagnosis and it was triple negative breast cancer, which there is no known Western medical treatment.
They do radiation and chemo because they don't know what else to do. There's no hormone therapy. And for me with the nutrition background and I see the damage from radiation and chemo, I was like, "I'm not doing that." And some people say, "It's a huge risk." And I have a lot of friends and family that were tremendous pressure like,
"We want you to live. We want you to do everything you can." And I thought at what cost?
I've already had a huge cost of the lifestyle that I had chosen. It is like, "Do I want to do another negative, putting poison on top?" So I didn't. And I went ketogenic. Because I had finally made that decision, I just dove in and I want to say it was easy because I feel I didn't have a choice. It was such a dire diagnosis that I had. The oncologist that I went to and said it was the most aggressive case he had ever seen in his 30 years and he put the fear in me. It's like, "Okay. Am I going to do this or not?" There is no try. And so I went to a conference in Baltimore, it was just convenient because my daughter was going to school there. So it's like, why not? Go to a conference on cancer, see my daughter, it's a great, great excuse and I learned so much. I met Dr. Thomas Seyfried, Mirian Clammy and Dr. Nisha Winters who are all huge proponents of ketogenic diet when it comes to cancer and had long, good conversations with them.
And by then I had been doing keto for several months and I was just so convinced. In the first three weeks of doing keto, my tumor shrunk noticeably.
And I mean just by my feeling is like, "Wow! It's like... It really isn't as big as it used to be." Anyway, so the ketogenic diet, there's been a lot of talk and press about this. And a lot of people say, "Well, it doesn't work for me, I gained weight." And I'm thinking, well, I mean, I don't want to be rude but it's like you're probably not doing it because it's not easy.
Sarah: No, it's not easy. Maybe we can just explain what the ketogenic diet is because it's not that complicated but like you say, it's not easy because you really do have to be strict.
Deanne: You do. And I found so many ways that I was getting kicked out of ketosis. So what keto is, well, for cancer, I did a therapeutic, which is even more strict. So I had 80% to 85% of my calories came from fat and very specific types of fat, not just any. And if I had any animal fat, that it had to be 100% organic grass fed because we know the toxins are stored in the animals’ fat. So if you're eating fat that has toxins and that's not really healthy. So most of the calories from fat, minimal amount of protein. So I did a calculation based on my activity level and my weight, etc. So I thought, "Okay, I need about 42 grams of protein a day and then maybe 18 grams of carbs a day (net grams)". So it's whatever the total carbohydrate minus the fiber and so it was an 18 grams of carbs a day, which is nothing.
Russ: That's nothing. It's like a quarter slice of bread.
Deanne: That's good thing for me that I don't really eat bread anyway. And so I say, it was easy for me because once I made that decision, I just did my calculations, I had my charts everywhere and I said, "This is what I can eat." And I just did it. And I ate within a period of time like between noon and 6pm.
So I did an intermittent fasting every day of 18 hours and that helps keep you in ketosis.
And also, especially in the beginning, I did the old fingerprick every day and sometimes twice a day to be sure that I was in ketosis. And it's a fingerprick, you get a drop of blood, measure ketones and measure glucose and then there's a formula. You divide the glucose by 18 and there's a little formula to see if you're in ketosis or not. And for cancer, it's a different ratio than weight loss, for example. So you can have a little bit more carbohydrate if you're just trying to lose some weight, but in my case, no, going all in. And there were so many times where I would measure and its like, "How am I not in ketosis? I'm eating all the right foods." Like, it's really easy to get kicked out until your body really makes that shift. And if I noticed that if I was not in ketosis all the time then my energy changed, my brain fog came back. So I didn't actually need to do the fingerprick to know, I could feel I started to get shaky again.
Sarah: Yeah, it's very interesting. I think the most interesting thing is it's hard to get your head around eating that amount of fat and being healthy, because it's a huge amount of fat that you're eating and similar to the Atkins diet, that kind of principle that you are putting your body in a different metabolic state by eating the same amount of fat. And I know from doing it from those few times that I saw you and you had those fat balls that you were eating, literally just balls of fat.
Deanne: Right and look at what has happened in our health care. I mean not just in our system in the US but worldwide. Cardiovascular diseases going up. It's not going down. And initially when I did, I did finally get into ketosis and I stayed there, I lost 10 pounds within the first week.
Sarah: Just from eating fat.
Deanne: Just from eating fat. And so again, it goes against the grain,
It goes against what we've been told, but when you do it right and you're eating the right fat, man, I'll tell you, my brain fog went away.
I had so much energy. And I was eating a lot of fat, but it was only eating two meals a day. I slept soundly through the night. I mean, everything got better. Everything! And so today, I'm not doing ketogenic diet. Today, right now, I'm on another 10 day kind of a cleanse kind of thing. But at the end of 10 days, starting next Monday, I'm back on it. And it's a lifestyle.
Russ: So is sugar forbidden on keto?
Deanne: No refined sugar. I get sugars in other ways and like I... Oh, man, I made some good chocolate. You get good organic fairtrade cocoa and you can blend in coconut oil, grass fed butter and a tablespoon of maple syrup with... As long as you're making a big enough batch. You do the calculations to make sure your carbs are in the right proportion. And man, is that the best chocolate I've ever had.
Russ: If you are a vegan, is it possible to be on ketosis, your fats coming from coconut oil but no animal fats?
Deanne: No animal fats if you're going to be vegan, so you can do almond butter and a cashew butter has a whole lot more carbohydrates, so you got to count it. But almond butter is a great choice. And when I was making the fat bombs, it was primarily almond butter, coconut oil and then you can add something in for different flavor. And there's others so many recipes now online for fat bombs. And again, it's just about doing the calculations and not cheating.
Sarah: But it's interesting that you say that though Russ, because a lot of this, again, on these principles that people think that plant based diet is healthier, but there is so much research now that advocates eating animal fats as part of this to promote health. And I know, I interviewed Fat Burning Man, I don't know if you've heard of Abel James, Fat Burning Man. A lot of these people are advocating a carnivore diet. So again, this goes a bit against the grain and I know Deanna was eating a lot of eggs, for example, a lot of potentially high cholesterol products. And yet, I think we can see here now like she looks fabulous. She is fabulous. She's totally on track with her health. And this is going against what we have been told about diets. I mean, I'm not saying a plant based diet isn't healthy. Yes, of course, you can have a really healthy plant based diet, but you can also have a very healthy carnivore diet. I think, it's just about what you want to do with your body where you're at and maybe like looking at some of these more alternative. It's going against conventional teaching, let's say.
Russ: I'd like to go back. I know it's probably not something you terribly want to talk about, but you get the diagnosis, and I imagine that it's hard for you to not follow doctor protocol here. I will tell you, I'm a cancer survivor. I had cancer in 1994. I had Hodgkin's lymphoma. There was no way I wasn't gonna listen to the doctors at that point. And my parents, everybody, the pressure of just do the protocol. It destroyed me. I mean I went through 10 weeks of chemo, 12 weeks of radiation and the demoralizing doctor after I finish everything says to me, "You know, I think, we're just gonna take your bone marrow and your stem cells and freeze them because you're gonna get it again." Because I was a stage 4B. And this is like I had just finished 22 weeks of therapy. So I imagine that it must have been hard to say no in that scenario that must have been a really tough decision.
Deanne: Yeah, it really was. There's no question. And I had a lot of soul searching to do. It's a process. And I'm sorry that you went through that and I can understand completely why you made the choice you did. I mean, if this was almost 20 years ago and you're already so young, you have your whole life ahead of you.
Russ: Obviously, I was young and naive. I'm like, "Of course, I'm going to do that."
Deanne: And if I was in my 20s, I would probably not have thought anything of it and not necessarily been happy about it but this is what you do. So yeah, part of the journey through with cancer, for me, anyway, is why did I get it to begin with and what was happening in my life? That's a different journey. I mean, keto and hyperbaric oxygen and other things that I did externally and the red light, the sauna infrared, all of that external stuff is easy to look at when it comes to the physical body and treating the physical body, but then we have the this emotional, spiritual side, not only can you not discount that but maybe that's the very most important thing. So I was doing a lot of journaling. It's like why did I get cancer to begin with? And previously, just two years before that, I lost my husband to suicide as well. He was an alcoholic and he was a great man, he was the love of my life, and I just expected to have an entire life with him. And I just watched this decline and I felt so powerless over it. And really, what I have learned since then about that powerlessness is that I was starting to take a victim stance. And this happens. It's really common in spouses of alcoholics or any type of abusive type of relationship is that we start to feel victim that we can't do anything, not only with our spouse, but anything in life. And so boundaries start coming down. I start saying yes to more things, start trying to be more of a people pleaser, and that the job that I had at that time wasn't helping. So it was really a big soul searching. It's like, "Wow! How did I...? What happened to the person when I was in my 20s?" I got my pilot's license at 19 years old. I had babies at home. I went sailing across the Pacific Ocean. What happened to that person? And I got lost along the way and that is a huge part, I believe, in my cancer.
Russ: Yeah, you bring up such an important thing. I mean, I remember going through an entire attitude shift and revelation during it. And I've had several moments of this in my life. That invited this into your soul, that's scary to think that that you actually have that power in your mind to create that in your body.
Deanne: Right. And then honestly it is the key, I think. And it's so unfortunate that we're in a situation today where, I mean, there's so much pressure in society, in our culture to be something, to have this career, to go through an expensive education, come out the other end with this fantastic degree and get this high paying job and start on this path.
It's all about doing, doing, doing and looking good while doing it. It has nothing to do with how we feel inside and what calls to us in our own authenticity, in our own likes and dislikes and our gifts.
So I really feel like we're on the wrong path. I really do.
Russ: I'm curious about two things. One, how did you get started? And where did you go to find the information?
Deanne: Well, for me, again, I kind of dove right in because of my diagnosis. But if somebody is just wanting to try it kind of thing, some people find it much easier to slowly integrate into their life. Well first of all, you look at your pantry and you get rid of anything that's high in carbohydrates. You got to look at the proportions. Get rid of anything that has any added sugar and you got to look at everything. I mean, most pasta sauce has added sugar. So look at the carbohydrate count. And again, for some people, it's easier to ease into it. So maybe cutting down to 50 grams of carbs today but not counting your vegetables. Just counting all other carbohydrates but they have as many vegetables as you want. And if it's fermented like sauerkraut, the fermenting process eats up all the sugars so it's just fiber. So that's like a free food and have at it. It depends on the individual. If you feel more comfortable easing in or diving in. But easing in, yeah, just really cut out those kind of the bad carbs. Eliminate the grains, if you can. Start substituting. Use a huge piece of romaine lettuce to wrap up instead of having a regular sandwich. Do wrap and count the carbs though for sure and increase the fat and have a spoonful of almond butter and a spoonful of coconut oil is a little hard to stomach sometimes.
Russ: And how long ago did all this happen?
Deanne: Yeah, I was diagnosed, it was May of 2017. I did go through a couple of oncologists and I found another one an integrative oncologist that I said, "Hey! I'm going to come to you for a couple different tests but basically, I'm gonna do my own thing and just come to you for the testing." And he was fine with that. That was great. So what I do is, I monitor with nagalase, which is an enzyme, it's kind of basically a byproduct of what happens if you are fighting some sort of either heavy duty virus like HIV, probably Coronavirus, and HIV, HP. Not the flu or a cold. Not something really simple that your immune system can handle without blinking an eye. But something more comprehensive. And so nagalase goes up in those cases including cancer. And so I would monitor my nagalase results just, first every month and just as my numbers were coming down and I maintaining keto and maintaining the other protocols that I was doing, then I felt like, "Okay, I'm on it right. I'm doing okay." And then after I went like six months, I think, one time without testing and when I did test again, my numbers were higher. It's like, "Okay, go back on keto because I relaxed." Again, I said early on it was easy for me because I dove in, because I didn't really have a choice. There is no try. Just dive in. But then when I finally thought I can relax a little bit, it's like oh it feels so good to relax and have a big salad and have radishes and have a sweet potato, that was decadence you know. So I was out of ketosis but still eating. I still didn't eat junk. I still don't have sugar. But I noticed my number started climbing again. So I'd go back in. So short answer on your question is, yes, I still have gone to do some monitoring, but I have not done any imaging, like they say you have to have a mammogram every six months. Like, nope; haven't had one and I won't.
Russ: Yeah. I mean first off, congratulations, really, truly. It is an absolute miracle. I think that the idea that now you look at the rest of your life and you're so careful at monitoring. And this is something Sarah has said all along around biohacking that it's the quantified self and you're truly proving that your quantified self is keeping you in that ketosis and on that path. Do you think that now for the rest of your very long life, you're going to be on ketosis and kind of as close as you can be for the rest of your very long life?
Deanne: Yeah, my very long life!
Russ: So it is amazing and I'm excited to give some tips to our listeners. Obviously, you're a professional nutritionist. So, our recommendations are always seek a professional before you start diving into this, but as someone who's not a professional, what would you recommend to someone who has had a diagnosis of cancer?
Deanne: Right. And legally, ethically, of course, I can't tell somebody what to do, but at the same time, I think the biggest thing and we're just talking about ethics, to me the biggest issue is when a doctor says to somebody, "If you don't do this you're gonna die", I think that should be malpractice. That is so unfair. Hope is the very strongest thing that there is.
If you destroy somebody's hope for survival or you hold them hostage saying, "You won't get better unless you do this", to me that's just terrible. And it is so wrong, because we (our bodies) this physical vehicle that we have is unbelievable. It is so powerful.
We can do so much we don't even understand. So yes, it is important to understand the numbers and know what to look for and how to do it and so it is important to get professional guidance if you are in something serious like cancer. There's no question. But know that we can do this. We are built to heal. We really are just give it the right tools. And so for somebody, there's no harm in launching in to try to get into ketosis right away. You might want to do a liver cleanse, but you don't have to worry about your cholesterol numbers. High cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. In fact, another study came out, another doctor just came forward, I mean, so many people and now the thing about the misinformation of fats and... Cholesterol is not the problem. And somebody has high cholesterol but low triglycerides, all the other numbers are good, that's a healthy person. And my cholesterol is high, they want to put me on steroids. I'm like no, I'm healthy. And so it's about the other numbers. It's all a balance. So a liver cleanse is good to make sure that you're processing. You don't want to have any congestion anywhere that's not helping, you got to release toxins. So again, these are things that are good to do with a professional.
Sarah: Get your probiotics. I know, Deanne has also written a book, because we didn't touch too much on that the more kind of emotional aspect, but I know that it's something that you have explored Deanne and you've put some of that in a book chapter and I know you are working on your own website to bring out some of these other tips because the diet page is cool and I think that was a big part of your healing journey.
Deanne: Yeah, I was privileged to be part of a book one chapter out of 30 in women who influenced, which I do kind of go into detail on my story there. And it's one of those, the Chicken Soup for the Soul kind of books where there's all these triumph over tragedy kind of stories. And I'm working on another book right now, which I'm hoping to finish within the next 60 days, at least the draft. And it's about... Well, it's about stress, but why most of it is in our own perception that we create.
🚨7 Day Challenge - Sarah tries (and epically fails) the Keto Diet🚨
Well, if you want to do the keto diet, you have to go all in and do it properly. I have monumentally failed this week to do the challenge, which was I was going to do the keto diet for a week. I knew we were going to have a catch up and I was frantically thinking "What can I make is something keto that I can at least say I tried something." So I found a friend of mine, Abel James Fat Burning Man, I started to look at some of his recipes and I thought you know what, if this is hard for me, it's gonna be hard for our listeners. Let's just get Abel James on and he can tell us himself, how do you get prepared for this? What do you need? What are the best sources of fat that will enable you to live on that diet for an extended period? I have gained a big awareness of how much of my diet is carb based – and there are a few uncomfortable truths to face on my own views of food and what ‘comfort food’ really means – I think this particular challenge is going to take more than 7 days! To be continued….